Front Matter Our Country Long Ago The Barbarous Indians The Mounds Where the Northmen Went The Northmen in America Queer Ideas Prince Henry the Navigator Youth of Columbus Columbus and the Queen "Land! Land!" Columbus and the Savages Home Again Columbus Ill-treated Death of Columbus How America Got its Name The Fountain of Youth "The Father of Waters" The French in Canada French and Spanish Quarrels The Sky City Around the World Nothing but Smoke Smith's Adventures The Jamestown Men Smith Wounded Pocahontas Visits England Hudson and the Indians The Mayflower Plymouth Rock The First Thanksgiving Snake Skin and Bullets The Beginning of Boston Stories of Two Ministers Williams and the Indians The Quakers The King-Killers King Phillip's War The Beginning of New York Penn and the Indians The Catholics in Maryland The Old Dominion Bacon's Rebellion A Journey Inland The Carolina Pirates Charter Oak Salem Witches Down the Mississippi La Salle's Adventures Indians on the Warpath Two Wars with the French Washington's Boyhood Washington's Journey Washington's First Battle Stories of Franklin Braddock's Defeat Wolfe at Quebec England and her Colonies The Stamp Tax The Anger of the Colonies The Boston Tea Party The Minutemen The Battle of Lexington Bunker Hill The Boston Boys The British leave Boston Declaration of Independence A Lady's Way of Helping Christmas Eve The Fight at Bennington Burgoyne's Surrender Winter at Valley Forge The Quaker Woman Putnam's Adventures Indian Cruelty Boone in Kentucky Famous Sea Fights The "Swamp Fox" The Poor Soldiers The Spy A Traitor's Death Two Unselfish Women Surrender of Cornwallis British Flag hauled down Washington's Farewell

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

The British Flag Hauled Down

The news of the surrender of Cornwallis filled all American hearts with joy; for our people knew, as well as the British, that the war was now ended. The tidings reached Philadelphia at night, while the watchman, making his rounds as usual, was passing up and down the streets. To the customary announcement of the time, and the cry, "All's well," he therefore added, "and Cornwallis is taken!"

The joy of this event proved fatal to the old door-keeper of Congress, while on all sides bells were rung and loud cheers were heard. On the next day the members of Congress marched in a body to church, to return thanks for the "victory of a great and good man in a great and good cause." But when the news reached England it caused great dismay. We are told that Lord North fell back as if struck by a cannon ball, and gasped: "O God, it is all over!"

Washington's Headquarters at Newburgh


Although the War of Independence was really over, and several Americans went to Europe to settle the terms of peace, British troops staid in America some time longer, and kept possession of Savannah and Charleston about a year. Washington, therefore, did not dare dismiss his army. To keep better guard over the British at New York, he collected all his forces at Newburgh. But although there was no more fighting, Washington's presence was more sorely needed than ever, for the men, having received only a small part of their long-promised pay, and unable to go home and work for their destitute families, were restless and discontented. In fact, even the officers thought Congress managed things badly, and wished to make Washington king.

Had Washington thought of himself more than of others, or been unduly ambitious, he could now have gone, at the head of the army, to overthrow Congress and take the power into his own hands, like Caesar and Napoleon. But Washington was a real patriot, and had no thought beyond the good of his country. He therefore sent for his officers, and made them a little speech.

In reading a letter from a congressman, promising that they should receive their dues, he had to take out his glasses, and as he put them on he quietly begged them to excuse him, saying: "My eyes have grown dim in the service of my country, but I have never doubted her justice." In his address he urged them not to tarnish the glory of their past services by rash conduct, and explained that Congress would soon settle their just demands. Such was the reliance placed upon his mere word, and the good influence he had over every man in his army, that all now consented to wait patiently until their services could receive their reward.

While Washington was thus keeping the soldiers in order, Franklin was in Europe, treating for peace. In 1782 George III. formally announced that he would recognize the independence of the United States, and closed his speech by saying he hoped that the same "religion, language, interests, and affections might prove a bond of permanent union between the two countries."

The treaty, however, was signed in Paris, on the 3rd of September, 1783. On this occasion Franklin donned the suit of Manchester velvet clothes which he had worn ten years before, when insulted in Parliament, and which he had vowed never to use again until his country was free. By this treaty the seacoast from Maine to Georgia was given up to the United States, together with all the land between the Great Lakes and Florida, westward as far as the Mississippi. At the same time, the British gave Florida back to Spain.

The news of this treaty was followed by the departure of the British soldiers from New York. They sailed away, leaving their flag still floating from the top of the liberty pole. Here some soldiers had nailed it fast, carefully greasing the pole so that the Americans should not haul down their colors until they were at least out of sight.

But a clever New York boy, seeing, that it was useless to try to climb the greased pole in the usual way, ran into a neighboring store, and soon came back with a pocket full of nails, some cleats, and a hammer. Nailing a cleat a short distance up, he stood upon it to nail another still higher, sand, climbing thus from point to point, reached the top of the pole, tore off the British flag, and replaced it by the American colors, amid the cheers of the assembled people!